February 28, 2024

2011 Frankfurt Motor Show: In Frankfurt, Automakers Vow to Drop a Few Pounds

The 64th Frankfurt Motor Show offers ample evidence that automakers still cannot agree which energy form will power cars of the future — petroleum, hydrogen, electricity or some fuel yet undiscovered. But they all agree on one point: cars are going to have to become lighter. A lot lighter.

The show, which is open to the public through Sept. 25 at the Messe Frankfurt convention center here, offers millions of square feet of new design studies and production vehicles, all bristling with the latest technologies.

During two days of press previews this week, it seemed that at every automaker’s display, company representatives were eager to explain their efforts to make every component, down to the smallest screw or rivet, as light as it could possibly be and still do its job.

Jaguar Land Rover even has a new executive position — head of lightweight vehicle strategy — to identify areas where shaving pounds is necessary and possible. The executive, Mark White, said the company found 15 pounds of savings in the way it made vehicles’ hoods. Aluminum has replaced steel in roof panels, saving another 15 pounds. Other lightweight materials like magnesium, better plastics and carbon fiber are being used in a wider range of applications.

“Land Rover remains committed to a goal of reducing curb weights of its S.U.V.’s by as much as 500 kilos over the next 10 years,” said John Edwards, the company’s global brand director. That goal — a reduction of more than half a ton — was evident in two lean new concept vehicles, the DC100 and DC100 Sport, that Mr. Edwards introduced here.

Jaguar, which rolled out a design study for a sports car called the C-X16, has over the past decade been an industry pioneer in developing aluminum chassis for its luxury sedans and sports cars. While the weight of most new vehicles has gone up in recent years because of added safety equipment, more electronic gadgets and “gotta-have” options, the company’s cars have become significantly lighter, said Ian Callum, the company’s design chief. As a result, Jaguars are enjoying gains in vehicle dynamics and fuel economy.

Until it developed aluminum space frames for its large sedans, Audi was among the manufacturers guilty of creeping weight gains in each successive generation of existing models. Its latest A8 flagship sedan, which has an aluminum space frame, is larger than the car it replaces but no heavier. The 2012 A6 sedan uses a partial aluminum chassis that Audi says helps to “reverse the spiral” of weight gain, shedding a total of 175 pounds compared with the vehicle it replaced.

In the introductions of several new models here, including “S” performance versions of all its larger sedans, company executives highlighted how many pounds had been engineered out of each.

Exotic sports cars, already among the most weight-conscious vehicles on the road, are also getting lighter. Lamborghini announced here that it would produce its Sesto Elemento, a lightweight hypercar introduced at the 2010 Paris auto show as a technology demonstrator. Porsche reported that it employed a new “intelligent light building” technique on the redesigned 911 that made its debut in Frankfurt; that vehicle is 100 pounds lighter than the model it replaces, despite having grown slightly over all.

Volvo said it was even using different speakers in its audio systems in an effort to squeeze out a few extra pounds.

Component manufacturers also have been put on notice not to deliver porky products.

ZF says that its new 9-speed automatic transmission, unveiled at the show, is lighter than its 8-speed unit even though it carries an extra ratio and other components. Continental Group said it was designing new brake systems that incorporate the parking brake function, eliminating the need for — and weight of — a separate pedal.

Toyota said it was under executive order to reduce the weight and space needed for its Hybrid Synergy Drive system by 35 percent for each new generation of the technology.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f8bf036523c8e04ab1e2e8deeead79e6

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